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Republicans suggest revising church funding

By Messenger Staff
Friday, February 17
The non-parliamentary Republican Party has called on the Government to revise the current model of funding for the Orthodox Church, which annually receives 25 million GEL from the state budget and various pieces of real estate and land.

The appeal came shortly after the church-related scandal.

Some say the real reason of the detention was the fact that the man, who was the deputy head of the Patriarchateís Property Management agency, knew about a range of violations and insisted on a financial audit.

Khatuna Samnidze from the Republican Party said the Orthodox Church does not only discuss faith and beliefs, but treats itself as an organization.

She stressed the financial relationship between the church and the government was very obscure, and would lead to controversy and crisis.

The party members and representatives from various Non-Governmental Organisations highlighted that Georgian government had always tried not to irritate the church, and at different times offered various benefits to the Patriarchate, especially if there was a crisis or a difficult period for the country.

The NGOs claim that currently, the Patriarchateís real estate and lands are 36 times more than Vatican-controlled territory.

This issue is of the utmost importance, as the church plays a very significant role in the country. Patriarch Ilia II who, according to almost all public opinion surveys, is the most trusted figure in Georgia.

The church is a big institution, and it is unlikely that in such a big system everyone will be honest.

There have been various speculations over the years about some illegalities committed by some clergymen; however, it is the first time that representatives of the church have openly spoke about violations within the Patriarchate.

Transparency in such cases is very important for the church itself; as such developments affect the publicís positive attitude about the clergy.